Sunday, December 21, 2008

I’ll huff, and I’ll puff, and I’ll blow this Senate down

From the hot air department:

If the Conservative government can't get its planned reforms to the Canadian Senate passed as soon as possible it will simply move to abolish the chamber altogether, says Steven Fletcher, the minister of state for democratic reform.
Yeah, I’m going to go ahead and call BS on that one.

I’ve argued before that the Conservative commitment to Senate reform has been truly half-asses at best, nibbling away around the edges in a way that will actually only create a worse situation: an elected Senate, unafraid of using its power, but with the regional inequities entrenched. The only real way to reform the Senate is through constitutional reform with the provinces. That’s a process the Conservatives have shown absolutely no appetite for.

Now, Stephen Fletcher is threatening to abolish the Senate if his nibbling, possibly unconstitutional “reforms” aren’t passed? Please. Does he think he can just abolish the Senate by fiat? Actually, given the understanding the Conservatives have demonstrated for our democratic process, maybe he does. But no, abolishing the Senate would require constitutional reform and amendment in negotiation with the provinces.

Do the Conservatives seriously expect us to believe they have the appetite for entering constitutional negotiations with the provinces to abolish the Senate when they have been unwilling to use this process to usher in the meaningful sort of Senate reform they CLAIM to stand for? Please.

Keep huffing and puffing, gentlemen.

And in the mean time, the Conservatives will demonstrate their commitment to Senate reform tomorrow by sending one of their top fundraisers to patronage heaven. Why, Reformers? Because the Liberals do it too. Preston must be so proud.

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Skinny Dipper said...

On a sort of humorous side, I can imagine Harper going to the Governor-General and asking her to prorogue the Senate. I know it can't be done legally. I can just imagine it.

Mike said...

possibly unconstitutional “reforms”

There's no 'possibly' about it - no changes can be made to the way the Senate works, including how Senators get the their job and how long they serve, without a constitutional amendment.

Fletcher is full of it. He is either lying, or, like most Conservative MPs, either hasn't read or doesn't understand out Constitution.

Mala Fides said...

Secretary of State for Democratic Reform Ha!!

Is this the same cabinet position in the form of Rob Nicholson who appearing before the Senate Standing Committee on Legal and Consitutional affairs and gave his considered opinion that under the then proposed amendments to the Elections Act that NO Prime Minister would be able to call an election before the fixed election date without a vote of non-confidence?????

Democratic reform to Harper means putting in place rules that apply to everyone else but him.

Harper has spent his entire adult life hating the federal government. Now that he is prime minister, he is using every tool in the kit to screw over his opposition.
Accountability only applies to others.

Honesty is the victim of political advantage.

Harper is unfit to be prime minister.

Loraine Lamontagne said...

Just to pick up on Mike's point - I don't expect our MPs to have read or to fully understand the documents that make up our Constitution.

More disturbing, and sadly this applies to MPs on both sides of the house, I find that our MPs don't even read the legislative texts they are voting on. C-20 is one example - other famous examples would be the visual id requirement of electors and the fixed election date.

Our MPs should not be permitted to read from notes in the house!